Most of the writers I know hate editing, but I don't mind it at all. There is a certain satisfaction in polishing your text until it is as good as you can make it.
New writers make the mistake of thinking that the purpose of the edit is to get rid of the errors. That is not true at all. Modern word processors check your spelling (and sometimes your grammar) as you type. In an ideal world, there wouldn't be any errors at all. It isn't an ideal world, however, and the odd one will always slip through. Those do need to be edited out, of course, but it is not the main function of the edit.
I go through my text onscreen once, improving the text as I go. Then I print it out and go through it with a fine tooth comb, using coloured highlighters. You would be amazed at how much text I discover that looked perfectly good on screen, only to be revealed as not cutting the mustard on paper. The reason for this is that you read much faster on screen, so you can miss stuff that isn't quite good enough easily. The process involves multiple passes in both directions until almost every page in the whole document (over 500 of them in this instance) has been altered for the better. The final book won't have 500+ pages - more like 400+ of them. This is because the first draft is double-spaced, which leaves room to pen annotations between the lines when editing.
Back to work. Still a lot of editing to do before it goes to Cuzzie for the proofread.
And the magic words are... THE END.
There have been times over the past two and a bit years when it felt like this book would never be finished, but it is at last - well, the first draft at any rate.
Since 2013, I have been turning out two books a year consistently. I even once attempted to write two books at the same time, but gave up on that particular enterprise quite quickly because it doesn't really work. I don't have a female mind, so multi-tasking doesn't come naturally.
'The Secret Angels' seems to have taken forever, but it isn't my longest gestation period. My first ever book, 'Usurper' was begun in 1972, but not completed until 2011! The difference was that I spent the vast majority of that time doing other things.
'Angels' has been different. It was begun in January of 2016, so it has taken more than two years to complete. In its distended development, it has been through four computers, three word processors and four different operating systems. It was begun on my old iMac, running OS X El Capitan, with an excellent Mac-only word processor, called Nisus Writer Pro. That didn't last long, though. The Mac died on me and I couldn't afford a replacement. That moved me onto my venerable old back-up PC, running Linux Mint Serena, and Libre Office Writer. Then that one died too, just before Christmas of 2016. That put me onto my second back-up machine - a refurbished PC that I had bought to do exam marking (my annual penance for being a former teacher). It was running Windows 7 with Libre Office Writer, but it soon became apparent that it had been originally designed for Windows XP and was hopelessly underpowered to deal with 7. As a short term fix, I breathed a bit of life into it by installing Linux Mint and a new word processor that I liked much more than Libre: WPS Writer.
Last summer, I got my current computer, a really fast quad-core PC, running Windows 10. I installed the Windows version of WPS and have finally finished the book with that.
The next book (fingers crossed) will be done from start to finish on that machine in WPS.
Coupled with all that, I suffered the worst case of writer's block that I had experienced in years. The only way to get rid of that is to work through it. Much of what you write is, inevitably, not very good when you are blocked - but bits of quality do seep through from time to time. The poor stuff, of course, is edited out and replaced on redrafting, and 'Angels' was redrafted again and again. So much so, in fact, that I don't expect the editing stage to last that long. Two weeks, perhaps, after which it will go to Cuzzie for proofreading.
Fortunately, I enjoy editing, so I am looking forward to the next stage. It involves printing out the entire text and going through it ruthlessly with highlighters, cutting, adding and replacing text as necessary - redrafting the whole book yet again. Then I do it backwards, meaning that I start at the last page and work my way forwards. Each paragraph is read the right way round, of course, but in reverse order. That breaks up the flow of the text and makes mistakes and poor style easier to spot.
Now that the donkey work is almost done, I am pleased with the result. There were times when I didn't think I would be able to complete it, but now I will, and that is a promise. The final product will be a book that I am proud of. Look to see it published in late May or early June.
I'm back. As things turned out, I didn't take the laptop. Decided to have a few days off writing for a change. It's just as well because, on my return, I realised that the book, as it stood, was really a bit too long for its own good. I am up to the climax, but it dawned on me that the road there could be slimmed down and sharpened a touch. That is what I have been doing for the past few days. It is already feeling the benefit.
A memento of our little trip north of the border. This is the view from the Mull of Galloway, Scotland's most southerly point. The sea is the North Channel, which connects the Irish Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. The hills on the horizon are the Mountains of Mourne in Northern Ireland.
Happy April Fool's Day, but this is not an April Fool, I promise. If it was, it would be something altogether more memorable.
I am now tantalisingly close to completing the first draft of 'The Secret Angels'. The climax is well under way and the end is in sight - at long last.
On an entirely different note, Helen and I are going away on holiday for a week, starting this afternoon. We are not going particularly far -163 miles, to be precise. We are taking our caravan for its first outing of the year to Cairnryan in southeast Scotland. One of Helen's closest friends gave her a Christmas present of afternoon tea in a Scottish castle, which also happens to be a 5 star hotel. That will be the highlight of this little trip. It is Glenapp Castle in Ayreshire.
Happy Easter, everyone, by the way. The weather forecast for the entire week is dreadful, so it may be that we spend much of it sheltering in the van (which is warm, dry and comfortable, fortunately). I am taking my Kindle (Amazon Fire 8HD, to be precise, which costs less than a Kindle, seems more durable and has a colour screen that can be dimmed for reading in poor light). Helen is taking a selection of books to read. We are also taking the laptop, so it is entirely possible that the first draft of the book may be completed while we are away.
Should the forecast prove inaccurate, we are also taking our cameras. The area is the setting of Robert Louis Stephenson's classic, 'The Master of Ballantrae'. I have just downloaded it to my Kindle, but I must finish reading 'Red Sparrow' before I start it.
Helen also has ancestral roots in the area, so we will also be checking them out.
All being well, I may be onto editing when we get back, so look to publication round about whitsuntide.
Writer of Fantasy, thrillers, comedy - and anything else that takes my fancy.